Leighton lose ground after table-top draw

Alan Priestley in action for Leighton against Westbury
Alan Priestley in action for Leighton against Westbury

Leighton Buzzard held on to frustrate leaders Westbury on Saturday, but lost ground to the leaders in the hunt for promotion back to Division 1.

Having started the day 25 points adrift of the early pace setters, Leighton’s losing draw would finish in fourth, now 38 points adrift of top spot as both Wolverton and Horspath got the jump on them with wins.

Jack Kempster

Jack Kempster

The damage was done to Leighton’s chances in the first innings, as Westbury, who have lost just once so far this season, dug their heels in after a shaky start.

Batting first, the visitors soon found themselves 10-2 after Alan Priestly removed opener Tom Gurney for 4 and then William Gurney two balls later for a duck.

But a Tom Wilson joined Olly Tice at the crease, and between them, the pair put Westbury back on course. Wilson’s big hitting dragged Westbury back into contention as he fired off 87 in 103 deliveries.

His dismissal, courtesy of an LBW decision for Jack Kempster, brought Sam Harper to the crease but he too brought with him a sense of quick-run action, much to the dismay of the home side.

Tice eventually fell for 70 as the pair put on 64, but when joined by Tom Young, another big partnership, this time of 83 saw the visitors reach 285-5, as Harper went for 73 as Priestley finished with 3-64 - the pick of Leighton’s bowlers.

The reply was in trouble from the off as Leighton lost three quick wickets. After losing Mark Burfoot for 4, Charlie Harper removed Tom Light and Phil Whatmore in consecutive balls to leave Leighton 12-3.

Things didn’t get much better when, 10 runs later, Bertie Barrett was back in the pavilion, another Harper victim.

Antony Francis though would prove to be a thorn in the Westbury side. Batting diligently for his unbeaten 73, he held up one end while those around him began to find their feet, but struggled to keep their wickets in tact.

Selfe added a rapid-fire 30 from 30, and though Kempster and Richard Raine were back in the pavilion without troubling the scorers, Tim O’Leary’s patient 16 from 56 balls was enough to help see the time out, with Leighton well short of the mark on 179-8, vitally keeping hold of their wickets though to pick up five points.

Next week, Leighton travel to lowly Didcot where they will aim to get back to winning ways and back into the promotion hunt.